EXTRA LIFE: Former 38 Studios artist Joe Mirabello sits at his work station in Sharon, Mass., where he designed his own game, “Tower of Guns.” Mirabello spent almost two years after the close of 38 Studios programming and designing the game.
(Editor’s note: This is the final story in a two-part series looking at the impact of the 38 Studios LLC bankruptcy on the local gaming industry and the company’s employees.)
Three years after Joe Mirabello began his career as an artist at Iron Lore Entertainment in Maynard, Mass., he had made up his mind to go west and find work designing the next blockbuster video game for a big-name West Coast studio – until 38 Studios LLC, then Green Monster Games, opened up right next door.
Mirabello was employee No. 24, one of only nine or 10 artists at a company that eventually would grow to employ dozens of artists and a staff of hundreds before declaring bankruptcy in 2012. Each year since, Mirabello and a band of fellow “38ers” in the greater Boston area gather for an informal reunion, but the group grows smaller every year.
“38 Studios wasn’t in the area long enough for people to establish families and have their kids in schools,” said Mirabello, meaning that the game designers, artists and programmers who had converged on Providence to work on 38 Studios’ in-development massively-multiplayer online video game, known as “Project Copernicus,” had no reason to stay when the company went under and West Coast studios came recruiting.
Mirabello, who joined 38 Studios before its 2010 move to Providence, is the exception. By the time 38 Studios shut its doors, he had married his wife, bought a house and put down roots. So when he decided to launch his own one-man game studio, Terrible Posture Games, he started up in Sharon, Mass.
“After witnessing a company collapse, I decided I was going to go do my own thing. I don’t want to work for another company that’s going to fall apart,” Mirabello said.
With his wife, Colleen’s encouragement, Mirabello spent almost two years after the close of 38 Studios programming and designing a game of his own creation, while his brother, Michael, developed music for the game. “Tower of Guns,” which combines the combat of a first-person shooter with randomized elements, officially released on March 4, and since then has sold well enough for Mirabello to continue his indie work.